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How can individual behavior be responsible for public health hazards?

Environmental and occupational hazards affect entire populations, not just individuals. They are public health issues. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) sometimes emphasizes individual responsibility for prevention in its workplace safety and health programs. This is more so when eliminating the cause of the problem is claimed to be "economically infeasible." Too often, for example, employees are instructed to wear personal protective equipment (which may be ill-fitting and cumbersome), instead of the employer being asked to change a practice or to substitute a less hazardous substance. This approach raises serious questions about who profits from exposing us to dangers at work or in our environment.

It also shifts responsibility for the dangers from public institutions and private corporations to us as individuals: We are told that our "lifestyle"or behavior is what makes us get sick or stay well. However, we cannot avoid being exposed to toxic substances or dangerous conditions that we cannot control.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.